Rights & Democracy addresses OAS on human rights obligations in the Americas

MONTREAL – June 5, 2005 – Rights & Democracy, as a representative of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Americas (The Coalition), will address Chief State Delegates at the Organization of American States (OAS) 35th General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Speaking on the theme of the General Assembly, “Distributing the Benefits of Democracy”, Rights & Democracy will present alongside fellow members of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Americas, which brings together over 150 human rights groups from across North, Central and South America.

The Coalition’s presentations will aim to remind government representatives that democracy, by its very definition, is a process of fair distribution of benefits. The fact that these benefits have not been truly equitably distributed to date demonstrates that democracies of the hemisphere have not attained the necessary depth, as illustrate the current fragility of national democratic institutions, persistent social injustice and exclusion, or the emergence of international commercial and security agreements that threaten to jeopardize human rights.

The Coalition therefore recommends that governments of the Organization of American States (OAS) undertake a series of measures that fall into six general categories:

    1. The strengthening of the Inter-American Democratic Charter’s enforcement mechanisms, in order to ensure an effective, preventive and transparent use of the instrument;

    2. The strengthening of the Inter-American system for the protection of human rights, through the ratification by all countries of the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), preserving the independence of the Inter-American Court and Commission on Human Rights, adequate financing of these bodies, State respect for their decisions and recommendations and transparency in the selection of Commissioners.

    3. Recognition for the indivisibility of human rights in a way that permits respect for, the realization and justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights;

    4. Particular attention to the rights of vulnerable sectors of society (advancing negotiations on the Inter-American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, respect for norms concerning the rights of women, etc…)

    5. Recognition of the primacy of human rights obligations over international agreements on commerce and security.

    6. Reinforcement of the mechanisms for civil society participation at the national, regional and international levels.